Diversity in the workplace is no new thing. With cultural melting pots such as the US where you can have employees from all over the globe working in one office, it’s becoming increasingly important to accept the differences in order to have a cohesive work environment. In the case of remote staff, understanding cultural nuances plays a pivotal role in having an efficient workflow as the lack of physical interaction changes the dynamic of the workplace relationship. In the case of Filipino remote staff, there are some cultural differences that will slightly hinder their ability to work or if embraced, will allow for a much more efficient and overall enjoyable working experience, for both your Filipino staff and their point of contact.
Why Hire Remote Filipino Workers?
To rephrase this question to something you might more commonly hear would be to ask, “why would I outsource _____ work?” Not getting into the semantics of why the question should be rephrased to fit the word remote staff instead of “outsource”, the answer is fairly simple, the cost. To answer why anyone would elect to hire remote Filipino staff is, at its core, still simple, but has a slightly longer answer. Remote Filipino or “Pinoy” staff, bring cheaper labor costs, high English proficiency, and a diverse skill pool to select from.
By understanding the Filipino culture, you greatly increase the success rate of your remote Filipino staff members as you will understand the do’s and don’ts of their culture.
Filipinos have a family-oriented culture. This directly connects with their strong sense of community and camaraderie, which happens to extend into the workplace. These two cultural points dictate how you should go about treating your staff, but more on that down below as there is a bit of a contradiction there.
Similar to other Asian cultures, Filipinos take great pride in their work. This means that they will do their assigned job to the best of their ability. The success they see in their work is what drives them to continue to produce results time and time again. Likewise, any praise their work or work ethic may receive will just be an added morale boost to them and in turn, boost the morale of the team.
Circling back to the family-oriented and cooperative culture, the Filipino people are also very compassionate. This coupled with their strong sense of reciprocity makes them loyal to your company as long as you continue to show support for them professionally and as friends. Being friends with staff that works under you might seem like a highly foreign concept in western cultures but it plays a pivotal role when dealing with Filipino staff, as morale can be made or broken by reciprocating this attitude to the team.
The Do’s And Don’ts
The real reason you even clicked this blog, what you should and shouldn’t do with remote Filipino staff. Some of these may seem like more work, but when the team is up and running everyone’s caught up on the flow of work. We speak from years of experience, Clark Staff has consistently helped its partners scale up their businesses as well as their remote staffing teams.
You should be clear when giving instructions and always make sure that you’re understood. But wait, why would you need to do this if the English proficiency level is high in the Philippines? The simple answer is colloquialism or phrases that are native to you, don’t translate well to someone who learned English as a second language. Of course, this varies from person to person, with some people being so used to different cultures they pick up on the connotative meanings of sayings faster than others. In general, you want to make sure everyone understands what you’re saying, or at the very least, your team leader, supervisor, or manager for your remote staff.
You should encourage an inclusive culture. In line with family values and a sense of community, Filipinos will naturally try to be part of the team. They will help any new additions to the team feel like a welcomed addition. Group activities, even if you aren’t physically present are greatly appreciated. Something like a small pizza party or small gifts for a holiday goes a long way. They help build trust and greatly boost the morale of the entire team, no matter the size.
The next thing you should do is provide guidance and coaching. As much as it would seem that having an open interpretation of their duties is a good thing, you need to provide structure. Make sure their duties and responsibilities are clear to them. The structure is what they will use to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities within the guidelines you set, as well as help them to improve those things. Leaving their job up for interpretation will lead to a scattered attempt to improve. Having a target will only help them improve their performance, and in the event that they get promoted and gain new tasks, make sure to go over them in a meeting to make sure everything is clear. An example of something you should really be clear about is deadlines and time. The Philippines is lax on timelines, so much so, that it’s literally called “Filipino time”. By ensuring that your team knows that you value being on time with work and deliverables, they’ll make sure to abide by your rules.
You do have to balance being strict with treating them like family. As stated before, you do have to lay out ground rules and provide guidance and structure. In the event that one-on one coaching needs to be done, sitting down with them and discussing things like a family will go a long way, in terms of getting your message across and building trust. An add-on tip for this is to call your Filipino staff by their nicknames, most of the time it may sound funny but it really helps to bring the team together.
Make it normal for them to share ideas. This may seem like a contradiction but in actuality, Filipinos respect hierarchy and don’t like to rock the boat, more on this below. This may hinder your team’s growth as someone could have an idea that increases productivity for the team or in the case we experienced here, saves the client a large sum of money.
Quickly touching on respecting hierarchy, the terms “po”, “sir”, and “ma’am” are going to be used frequently when your staff is addressing you. These honorifics used in the Philippines are deeply ingrained in their culture. You may also hear “opo” which is the equivalent of “yes sir/ma’am”.
Connecting the last two do’s and don’ts, you must avoid public disciplinary actions when dealing with Filipino staff. In the Philippines, it is considered taboo to publicly criticize someone’s work. In the same way that they respect the hierarchy and don’t want to cause problems, they expect to not be berated in a public manner. As much as possible, have talks about performance or behavior in private to avoid any problems. Having a member of your team “lose face” in front of everyone else will often lead to lower morale and in some extreme cases, lead to employee resignation.
If you take anything away from this, let it be that you need to provide structure and clear instructions, as well as balancing being strict/firm and treating your staff like family. Those tips alone will let you successfully lead a team of Filipinos. This style of management might be foreign to many of you, but don’t let it discourage you from hiring a remote Filipino team, as plenty of successful campaigns and clients will tell you, they’re hardworking people and with time and some work, can become fiercely loyal to you and your company.